national park in Estonia
Europe > Baltic states > Estonia > South Estonia > Soomaa National Park

Soomaa National Park [1] is in Viljandimaa and Pärnumaa of Estonia. With 390 km², it's the second largest national park in Estonia.

UnderstandEdit

Soomaa national park, situated in South West Estonia, has been created to protect large raised bogs, flood plain grasslands, paludified forests and meandering rivers.

HistoryEdit

Established: 8 December 1993. Soomaa national park has been listed as a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance since 1997.

In 2009 Soomaa National Park became a certified PAN Park, joining a network dedicated for conserving European Wilderness.

This national park also received an EDEN (European Destinations of Excellence) award from the European Commission in 2009 for promoting sustainable tourism in and around a protected area.

LandscapeEdit

The territory of the national park is mostly covered with large mires, separated from each other by the rivers of the Pärnu River basin — the Navesti, Halliste, Raudna and Lemmjõgi rivers.

On the eastern margin of the national park lie the highest dunes on the Estonian mainland, 50 km off the contemporary coastline.

Flora and faunaEdit

 
Trees gnawed by beavers in Soomaa

Soomaa is home to, and a breeding zone for, rare European mammals including roe deer, elk, wild boars, beavers, lynx, wolves and brown bears. Soomaa bog is also a breeding ground for several rare bird species, including golden eagles, black storks, black grouse and capercaillies. It is a habitat for some rare plants as Iris Sibirica, Gladiolus imbricatus, and some orchids as well.

ClimateEdit

What makes Soomaa unique is the so called "fifth season" - the spring flood, which can raise the water level five metres above the low-water level! Everywhere floods - meadows, fields, forests, roads and sometimes even houses.

Get inEdit

There is a public bus from Pärnu to Riisa village (inside the national park) twice a day: 06:05 and 14:30.

Private operators have a pickup service from hotels of Pärnu at 09:00.

The visiting centre of the Soomaa National Park is located in Tõramaa, which is 4 km from Riisa bus stop.

Fees and permitsEdit

There is no fee to enter a national park and no fees for using walking trails and visiting the national park's visitor center. There are fees for guided services, canoeing on the rivers and walking on bogs and forests.

Get aroundEdit

Soomaa has few roads, getting around by bicycle is an option. One can also follow the many hiking trails on foot. There are wooden board-walks in peat bogs. Canoeing is one of the best ways to explore the watery wilderness of Soomaa and several canoe tour companies operate in the area.

SeeEdit

The State Forest Centre provides a visitor centre at Tõramaa that provides information, including leaflets and brochures, about Soomaa’s habitats, wildlife and history, as well as about the various services and hiking trails that are available for visitors.

DoEdit

Canoeing is one popular activity and a good way to get to know Soomaa national park. Guided canoe trips are available, and rental of canoes as well.

BuyEdit

Some local souvenirs are on sale in visitor center, and in local guesthouses.

EatEdit

No restaurant is inside the park. Around the national park you can find local pubs in Jõesuu village and Suure-Jaani village. Guesthouses provide meals for their guests.

DrinkEdit

There are no restaurants in the park. Around the national park you can find local pubs in Jõesuu village and Suure-Jaani village.

SleepEdit

The official Estonian tourism website provides an extensive list of options for accommodation.

LodgingEdit

There are guesthouses around Soomaa National Park.

CampingEdit

In national park are two types of camping sites: those provided by the State Forest Centre are free of charge to use, and those on private land can be hired at a fee.

BackcountryEdit

Stay safeEdit

Go nextEdit

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